The 7 Best Paint Rollers of 2023
It's the fuzziest tool in your DIY stash, and we'll help you choose the right paint roller and cover for your home painting projects.
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NICOLAS BALCAZAR/GETTY IMAGES
A paint roller applies paint faster and more evenly on interior and exterior surfaces than a paint brush—and with less mess and fuss.
There are two main parts of a paint roller: The paint roller frame and the roller cover. Roller frames are made of thick wire with hard plastic handles that are designed to hold roller covers firmly so they don’t slip or slide. Most frames come with threaded handles to easily attach to an extension pole and fit into any standard-size paint tray and bucket. Roller covers are tubes topped with an absorbent material that slips over the paint roller frame. They’re often made of synthetic fabrics (woven or knitted), such as polyester or foam, as well as natural fibers, like mohair or lambswool. Covers come in a range of nap sizes, and the thicker the pile, the more paint it holds.
Our favorite paint roller frames and covers are sure to provide the perfect paint job.
Best Overall Roller Cover
Purdy White Dove Roller Cover
Extremely high-performing, the Purdy White Dove Roller Cover works with all types of paints and coatings, including latex and oil-based paints, stains, clear coats and primers. It works best on smooth to semi-smooth surfaces. Try it out indoors on walls, cabinets and paneling, and outdoors on finished decks. The White Dove roller cover features woven deluxe dralon, a durable and affordable alternative to wool. Dralon is an acrylic material made from polymer that offers excellent coverage and a lint-free finish.
- Works with all paint and stain types
- Provides a lint-free finish
- Can be used inside and outside
- Not ideal for textured surfaces
Best Value Paint Roller and Cover Set
Bates Paint Roller Set
The Bates Paint Roller Set has everything you need for all your do-it-yourself painting projects. The practical kit comes with a tray, 4-inch and 9-inch roller frames (with two covers each), a 2-inch angled brush and a high-density foam brush. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional or beginner, the products in this set work well for any user to put the finish touches on smaller projects. The durable plastic paint tray alone is worth the budget-friendly price tag.
- 11-piece set for an affordable price
- Rollers and brush can be washed for reuse
- Lightweight and durable tools
- Brush and rollers may shed
Best Roller Cover for Textured Surfaces
Wooster Golden Flo Roller Cover
When painting textured walls and extra-rough surfaces, you want a roller cover that can go deep. The Wooster Golden Flo Roller Cover has a pile height of 1.5 inches, guaranteeing it’ll fill every nook and cranny with color. This roller cover is made of high-density polyester knit fabric to hold large amounts of paint, yet it resists matting. It’s a quality option on rough surfaces, like stucco, brick and wood. This roller works with flat to high-gloss paints and everything in between.
- Resists matting for smooth results
- Works with a range of paint types
- Has a high paint hold capacity
- Isn’t shed-resistant
Best Natural Roller Cover
Purdy Lambskin Roller Cover
The Purdy Lambskin Roller Cover is made of wool, a natural material that’s generally more durable than its manufactured counterparts. At 9 inches long with a 0.5-inch nap, the lambswool cover is best suited for applications on semi-smooth to semi-rough surfaces. Painting purists who like the feel and performance of natural materials will appreciate this cover, especially because it holds on to paint well, releases evenly, doesn’t cause splattering and cleans up faster.
- The materials’ natural oils don’t require preconditioning
- Works with latex and oil-based paints
- Naturally absorbent and shed-resistant
- On the expensive side
Best Mini Roller Frame and Cover
FoamPro 2-Inch Mini Roller
For touching up scuff marks and fingerprints around the house, there’s no need to bring out the big guns when the FoamPro 2-Inch Mini Roller does the job nicely. It’s ideal for working on narrow surfaces, like beams, baseboards and tight corners. The set includes a 2-inch frame with nonslip comfort grip handle and a 2-inch roller designed to apply all latex paints without any streaks, lint or blemishes. It also comes in 4- and 6-inch sizes for touching up things like cabinets, doors and closets.
- Comes in 2-, 4- and 6-inch sizes
- Won’t break the bank
- Provides a smooth, lint-free application
- Not for textured surfaces
Best Basic Roller Frame
Wooster 501 Paint Roller Frame
The Wooster 501 Roller is a 9-inch high-quality frame that will deliver smooth results. The thick, comfortable handle has a nonslip coating built for long paint jobs. Thinking of adding an extension rod? This frame will resist twisting while you’re in the zone. A sturdy rim at the bottom of the grip helps with unwanted movements while the metal wires of the roller keep the roller cover in place as you paint.
- Standard size to work with buckets and trays
- Has a thick, comfortable handle
- Compatible with an extension rod
- Doesn’t include a roller cover
Best Roller Frame for Large Areas
Purdy Adjustable Frame Roller
Just what you need for painting huge areas, the Purdy Adjustable Frame Roller proves that the bigger the roller, the more efficient the paint job. The versatile roller frame adjusts from 12 to 18 inches, and can be used with all roller cover nap heights, so you can swap out size covers for different types of jobs. Plus, the frame has a special angled design, making for better wall coverage and allowing it to get very close to the baseboards and ceiling. Load this monster up and finish painting a room in less time!
- Adjustable frame size
- Angled design provides better wall coverage
- Fits most extension poles
- Doesn’t include a roller cover
What to Consider When Shopping for Paint Rollers
- Frame: Choose one with a sturdy, strong wire cage that spins easily on its ball bearings. For comfortable painting, pick one with an easy-to-grip, ergonomic handle.
- Cover: In episode 12 of the Painting and Decorating Contractors Association’s (PDCA) “Trade Best Practices Series,” Chris Shank, PDCA’s education director, explains the importance of using high-quality covers when painting a room. Shank recommends choosing a cover that lets you balance production with the desired finish. “A professional-quality roller cover will perform and produce expected results,” he says, “and a cheap cover won’t.” Spending a little more upfront can save you time and money in the long run. There are many types of sizes, cover fabrics and naps to match the job you’re doing.
- Size: Nine-inch rollers are a popular size for most jobs. An 18-inch roller covers large areas faster while mini rollers (4.5 inches) are best for painting trim, doors and smaller projects.
- Fabric: For most interior painting, woven or knitted synthetic covers are the right choice, because they shed less and provide a smooth coating on walls and ceilings. Natural materials, like lambswool, are recommended when applying oil-based or gloss coatings. Foam rollers eliminate laps lines, so they’re ideal to use on fine woodwork to spread varnishes and polyurethanes.
- Nap: The nap or pile height of a roller indicates its thickness. The most common nap is 0.5 inches., recommended for smooth interior walls. A fluffier, 1.25-inch roller cover works best on rough exterior surfaces. Rule of thumb: The larger the nap, the more paint it holds, which means a more stippled (textured) finish left behind.
How We Found the Best Paint Rollers
As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.
How do you clean a paint roller?
Before you clean your paint roller, scrape off excess paint using a scraping tool or putty knife. After removing any excess or dripping paint, take the roller cover off the roller frame to wash. We recommend using warm water and dish soap to wash. After submerging the roller into a bucket of warm, soapy water, massage the roller to loosen any stuck-on paint. Consider using gloves to wash your brushes so that your hands and nails stay clean of paint.
If you’re cleaning a paint roller after using an oil-based paint, you might want to use a solvent to break down the paint before washing. After washing the roller, rinse and make sure to dry it to prevent fibers from clumping.
How do you use a paint roller?
To start, dip your roller lightly into the paint—we recommend using a paint tray—and roll it back and forth on the ramp of the tray to evenly coat the paint on the roller cover. It’s best to start with a thin layer of paint to avoid clumping and dripping during application. When you roll the paint onto the surface, like a wall, try working in a large zigzag pattern and filling in with crisscross strokes.
How do you keep a paint roller from drying out?
Whether you’re a new DIYer or professional painter, it’s smart to maximize the use of your paint roller. You can do so by keeping it from drying out in between uses. If you only need to keep it from drying out for a short period of time, plastic wrap or a plastic bag will do. If you need to prevent your roller from drying out overnight, we recommend using foil and keeping it in the fridge.
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